2002-09-14 / Columnists

Health and Harmony

By Dr. Nancy Gahles

Women of Rockaway

A film of the same name was previewed at The Beach Club last Monday night. The film was about the women of Rockaway and their loss from the tragedy of September 11.  The film was sensitively made with interviews of several women who described their feelings so poignantly that it made you sad and proud at the same time. 

We all share a common bond of human suffering though when it hits home we see it through a different lens. I was so proud of how the women told their stories. I was proud of the strength that emanated from them. I was struck by the reality of the elderly woman on her way into Church who voiced her ongoing struggle with forgiveness. I was forever saddened by the woman who saw her son lose his innocence over the death of his father. The agony and the ecstasy. I suppose the ecstasy was in hearing how the women of Rockaway banded together to support one another. 

This is the nature and the beauty of a community in the true sense of the word. A place where people live together and share in your joys, celebrate your successes and mourn your losses. It goes way beyond bringing casseroles. Neighbors stop over and talk with you. They cry with you and they laugh with you, because they know you. They know your family, your kids, your mother. They share your pain because, as one person put it, "When it happens to one person in Rockaway, it happens to us all".

Healing is a personal journey and I asked people how they are doing.  Here are some responses:

"I think we are resilient.  We are doing what we have to do. I choose the word resilient because we have the ability to carry on but we are nowhere near healed. We're just going through the motions."

"I'm not ready to reflect on it. I'm not ready to open up the pain again.  It's like it just happened.  It's an open wound.  I don't want to look at it, to rehash it.  It's too unbelievable. I can't process it.  It's just too much.  I didn't realize how much it affected me until I started to see it all again and this time it affected me more than originally."

"My stomach hurts a lot but I think I'm handling it Ok".

Tribal cultures from time immemorial have customs and rituals in place for grieving and mourning. We should take our cue from the women of Rockaway who have felt the strength and support of the "tribe" and it was this community that has helped them to carry on.

Be a part of it. Hold tight to your neighbors and friends. We are all part of the human family. Stand in thankfulness and gratitude for the challenges Life offers us to become better and more whole people. Take the opportunity for a random act of kindness. Step back and look at how you can create Health & Harmony in your everyday life, despite the chaos around you. Go within and ask for help.  You are never really alone. As a woman of Rockaway, all of my beloved Rockaway community is always in my prayers.

May The Blessings Be!


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